Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dil To Lei Gava...

Aap ki Kasam was released in 1974, amidst the downward trend of Rajesh Khanna. On the other hand, just a year ago, Zanjeer had marked the beginning of a rising graph for Amitabh Bachchan. Zanjeer was his first major hit, after a series of 13 flops (excepting Bombay to Goa - which had an average run on the box office, when first released).

Just before Zanjeer, came a movie which was last of Amitabh’s series of initial flops. Bandhe Haath – written & produced by O P Ralhan, which had Amitabh in his first double role alongwith Mumtaz, Ajit & O P Ralhan. 

This was Pancham’s second movie with O P Ralhan. The first one was Hulchul, which had no song, but a few very interesting dance compositions. 

Bandhe Haath, as I said earlier, failed to make any impression at the box office. As happens with most of the flops, even its music really did not create any waves. In the bargain, some of Pancham’s brilliance failed to shine – at least for the time being.

It was much later that Bandhe Haath’s music got some recognition. Listening to the quality of these compositions, it still was not enough though.

Take for example this number, a dance composition with Mumtaz dancing her heart out to an effervescent medley of instruments with funky rhythm and rapid African beats – alongwith mouthing of some of inane words -  that under anyone else’s baton could have resulted in a chaos. However, with R D at the helm, it sounds cohesive as well as energetic – something like Caravan’s Daiyya Main Kahan Aa Phansi.

On screen while Amitabh tries his best to keep up with Mumtaz, off screen, it is Manna Dey & Mahendra Kappor playing a supporting role to an absolute in-form Asha Bhosle. And just as a trivia, the police inspector in the scene is character actor Ram Mohan, whom Pancham later lent his voice for, in that  classic from Kitaab – Dhanno ki Aankhon Men.   

However, why digress? It is time for Asha Bhosle & Mumtaz to step up the beats in Dil To Lei Gava..

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Woh Phir Nahin Aate

Aap Ki Kasam was quite a well made movie, with reasonably good performances from all the three lead performers. Rajesh Khanna, as an excessively jealous husband doubting his wife forever, and in the bargain ruining the entire relationship, portrayed the role amazingly well, though the movie was preceded by a number of flops.

Of course, the movie had everything going for it, as far as its music was concerned. Another song of the movie, on a forlorn note, starts with the close-up of Rajesh Khanna, and the pain on his face can almost make one understand how closely he must have related to the lyrics – not only due to the story of the movie, but also of the turmoil he himself must have been going through with a number of flops.

While the lyrics, penned by Anand Bakshi, are simple & yet profound, it is the composition – based on Raag Bihaag –which is brilliant.

It begins with a beat – resembling a train journey – that remains constant through the song, with a number of instruments that keep adding the sound, before a very brief pause, and then the vocals start. As the song progresses, the structure & the instruments used in the composition also change – to denote the passage of time and the seasons.

There is a well created fusion of western as well as Indian instruments, with Santoor & Flute used judiciously to bring out the melody. Each of the interludes has such a distinct identity that it can be a part of an independent composition. Post each interlude, to bring the composition back to the main theme, ensuring that they are not perceived to be out of place is the hallmark of a genius. Of course, that is what Pancham was, and he was accompanied by another genius – Kishore Kumar – whose rendition ensured that the song has remained to be an all time classic – even after four decades.

Here it is:

Subah Aati Hai, Shaam Jaati Hai 
Waqt Chalataa Hi Rahataa Hai, Rukataa Nahi
Ek Pal Me Ye Aage Nikal Jaataa Hai
Aadami Theek Se Dekh Paataa Nahi
Aur Parade Ka Manzar Badal Jaataa Hai
Ek Baar Chale Jaate Hai Jo Din-Raat Subah-O-Shaam
Woh Phir Nahi Aate, Woh Phir Nahi Aate

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jai Jai Shiv Shankar

Lutf-e-Maye tujhse Kya Kahoon Nadaan

Hai Kambakht, Tune to Pee hi Nahin

Well, playing Holi without having a couple of glasses of Bhang - the drink favoured by no less than Lord Shiva himself, could be considered a sacrilege. And so would be not playing this song - another of Pancham's evergreen composition. This is from Aap ki Kasam of 1974, the movie where J Omprakash (Rakesh Roshan's father-in-law) turned from a producer to a director.

The movie itself was not a hit, rather proving to be just another step in superstar Rajesh Khanna's climbdown from stardom. The music however turned out to be super-hit with this bhang induced song & dance sequence ruling the chart for most of the year - ranking second on Binaca Geetmala's annual list of hits for that year. 

Rajesh Khanna had once mentioned in an interview that he had gone to a temple with Pancham. The clanging bells had a distinct sound and a peculiar rhythmic beat which caught Pancham’s attention, and were used by him in the beginning of the song. Of course, as the song moves on, the number of instruments keep getting added, reaching a finale, which has an unmatchable chaotic rhythm & energy to it.

There is another reason to listen to the finale of this song, an interesting story recently recounted by Mr. Annu Kapoor on his Big FM programme.

Apparently, due to the number of instruments used by Pancham for this song, the budget of the song recording had gone haywire - reaching a figure of 50000 - an astounding sum for a song recording in early 70s. Upset with this, Mr. J Omprakash, at the time of rehearsal kept complaining to Pancham & everyone else - "pachaas hazar kharch ho gaye, par mazaa nahin aaya". This constant barb naturally affected RD, and he shared his anguish with one of his best friends in the industry & the male singer of this song - Kishore Kumar. 

Of course, a friend in need is friend indeed. Kishore Kumar did not let the matter go unheeded. In the final version of the song, as the instruments are reaching a crescendo, you can hear him shouting - Bajao re Bajao imandari se bajao Pachas hazar kharch kiye hain. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Holi Re Holi..

Holi has been a festival closest to my heart. Something in the weather - just turning cold to warm - also brings out the warmth amongst ourselves, while making us drop all our pretensions and open up our heart. It is a festival that brings out bohemian of most of us. A festival like this, naturally also opened up the possibility for Pancham to unleash his creativity most effectively. No wonder he has a number of songs centered around Holi.

Beginning from Kati Patang to Sholay, I can remember at least six movies where Pancham had composed a s
ong for Holi. Each of these have remained amongst the playlists for the Holi parties.

My favourite, of these, is from a movie - Paraya Dhan, released in 1971. The movie, starring Rakesh Rohan & a very beautiful Hema Malini, alongwith Balraj Sahni & Ajit was shot for a major part in the valley of Kullu. Its composition had a different flavour altogether, something like the sound from western curry classic meeting the music of the valley. The fusion was simply brilliant as most of the songs went on to become classics over the year.

For example, this Holi song, lyrics for which were written by Anand Bakshi. It has a rhythm that is unlike a normal Holi song. Even the instruments are not really the traditional instruments.Asha Bhosle & Manna Dey add their brilliant vocal rendition to the composition. The result is a song which conveys the mood of this festival of colours in a perfect manner.

Wishing you a very happy Holi, as you listen to this gem from Pancham:

Friday, March 14, 2014

I Am Falling In Love With A Stranger

To dream of replacing Amitabh is much easier than actually doing it. It requires a combination of talent, self-belief & tenacity that few are capable of. 

Tenacity? Yes, excluding Anand - where his introvert Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee proved to be a perfect juxtaposition for Rajesh Khanna to walk away with all laurels, it was only after delivering a series of flops (which could have made anyone else decide to look for an alternate career) that Amitabh could get Zanjeer, his 13th movie, and the first role that started shaping him as a rebellious young man. 

Post Zanjeer, there were a number of good performances - like Abhimaan, Majbiir, Mili & Chupke Chupke. Yet, he was still a hero for the feel good small budget cinemas. Then came 1975 - the year in which his brooding performances in two mega budget movies and their super success finally put him on the road to being called Super Star. One was Sholay, and just before that, at the beginning of the year, was Yash Chopra's Deewar.

Pancham already had composed for a number of movies starring Amitabh but Deewar was different. Here, the role had no, absolutely no, possibility of a song for Amitabh. The movie however had an interesting night club scene just before Amitabh is on his way to meet - nonchalantly - a probable death. 

RD used the situation for an English number, penned by Pancham himself & sung by Ursula Vaz. The composition is interesting & in two parts. The first part - of a romantic ambiance where a very beautiful Parveen Babi gets introduced in the movie & strikes a conversation with Amitabh. The composition here is suitably centered around Bossa Nova & Jazz in a lilting slow tempo, with refrains from instruments that include Trumpet, Piano & Drums. However, half way through the sequence, the time for words get over, tempo changes & gives way to a composition to match the suspense the situation carries. 

The end result is superb & pleasant, as while Amitabh survives & finds a soulmate in Parveen, we get a very hummable number: I am falling in Love With A Stranger:

A Note: Since the movie sequence has the song only in background, I am putting up the song & the composition itself:
Please check this out.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ik Din Sapne men Dekha Sapna

Talking about dreams, most people do have a dream that gives them wealth & fame. A dream like this has to have a name & a face - someone whom you would aspire to replace.

Here is another composition of Pancham - whacky in style & whackier in lyrics, penned by Gulzar for the topmost grosser of 1979. Amol Palekar, the hero of the movie, whom this performance landed his first & only Filmfare award for the Best Actor, has aspirations to fame and talent both, and the song reflected those. Of course his character, apart from being essentially a middle class guy, also struck closer home - as he was shown pursuing the professional course of CA. 

Yes, this is Golmaal - that hilarious comedy by Hrishikesh Mukherjee which also got Utpal Dutt an award for the best comedian. 

At the time when this movie was released, there existed an actor who was not only one of the most celebrated stuntmen of Hindi Cinema, but also quite dreaded due to his looks, whenever he appeared on his screen. His son, then about 6 years old, after growing up went on to make a series of comedies titled Golmaal - of course with different kind of sensibilities yet quite witty. This is Rohit Shetty, son of the Fight Master Shetty. 

Interestingly Rohit Shetty's series of Golmaals were stories far different from the movie made in 1979. However, finally when he made the remake of Golmaal, it was titled Bol Bachchan - revolving around the name & fame of Amitabh Bachchan, whom, in original Golmaal, Amol Palekar is trying to be better than while singing this song.

The picturisation also had the Director paying homage to one of the scenes from his own Guddi, while another scene shows Rekha in her Khubsoorat avataar. In fact, considering the attire of Rekha, and knowing that Golmaal was quickly followed by Khubsoorat, I would not be too surprised if Rekha's special appearance was shot on Khubsoorat's set.

The song was sung by Kishore Kumar in his zany style. However, that small refrain of yodelling at the end of first stanza is not by Kishore, but by his son Amit Kumar. Believe me, one can not make out a difference.

So here is Ik Din Sapne men Dekha Sapna:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Maine Dekha Ek Sapna

As I wrote earlier, Samadhi had Dharmendra playing double role. A double role by a hero naturally means two heroines, and if the story demands, then possibly compositions which can denote two different generations.

In Samadhi, the second heroine's role was played by Jaya Bhaduri. In fact, this was Jaya Bhaduri's 2nd movie with Dharmendra, and the first one where they played a romantic couple. (The first one was of course Guddi, where she had a crush on Dharmendra - giving an amazing performance playing himself - while he worked on getting her cured of that crush.) While the first generation couple was shown more in village, with traditional clothes, bullock carts and wells, the second generation was urbanised - with large cars, fashionable clothes and well landscaped gardens.

Both parts of the story had two songs each with a clear distinct identity to suit the change of location. One of these songs was also an experiment by Pancham. I wish I had the requisite technical knowledge to describe it better. However, as a listener, I find it unique in many ways. Despite being a romantic song, the composition is far from being called soft. In fact, it is quite vigorous. The interludes are also brief. However, most interesting is the way the it has been structured, with notes changing fast almost like overlapping each other. 

May be it could be a good idea to just play it now, for you to understand yourself what I mean. So here it is, Kishore & Lata rendering their voice for the lyrics penned by, once again, Majrooh:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kaanta Laga..

Rakhi Aur Hathkadi was one of the lesser known movies from 1972 - a year, when Pancham gave some of his most memorable compositions. Most of them were for the movies which went on to be super hits, namely Seeta Aur Geeta, Rampur ka Laxman, Jawani Deewani, Bombay to Goa, Apna Desh & Parichay. Of course, there was also Mere Jeevan Saathi, where while the music went on to be superhit, the movie flopped miserably - starting the downward graph of Rajesh Khanna.

The same year also had Pancham composing music for a Dharmendra, Asha Parekh & Jaya Bhaduri starrer - interestingly another double role movie - this time of a father and a son, played by Dharmendra, where RD provided some fabulous compositions. One such composition had Lata Mangeshkar as a singer. 

The song is interesting due to two reasons.

One, the compositions was unusual for a Lata's song. It was actually more suited for the songs Asha Bhosle was known for. Secondly, the mukhda of the lyrics penned by Majrooh, pretty tame from today's standard, was also something that Lata would normally not have sung. Perhaps it was the purity of the composition as well as the performer on-screen that made Lata sing this.

Pancham's composition had lovely beats, with lots of percussion - including Dholak & Duggi, and as an innovation, using sticks on leather. The sound at the beginning of each interlude suited the zany rhythm, and needed someone with the calibre of dance that few in industry could have provided. Fortunately, it was Asha Parekh who performed it on-screen, thus imbuing the song with a classiness, a lack of which otherwise could have turned it into a crass commercial composition.

As  times change, so does the society. Almost 30 years later, then a lesser known Shefali Zariwala used a remix of this song - minus its beats & the classiness - in 2003 to launch her career as DJ Doll, and became a rage overnight.

However, it is still the original composition which sound fresher as compared to just a decade old remix. Verify yourself as you listen to Kaanta Laga... from Samadhi: